My BFF came out to see Dickie with me today. It was fun to show off all the work we have done. He rode for years and actually used to start horses for a living. It is our hope that he will be a good mount for both of us once he is older. I feel so fortunate that he will be there with me through the process. He has a ton of knowledge and has had the first ride on countless horses. He has ridden green horses and problem horses. He is incredibly calm and the horses love him. Dickie is especially smitten with him. He likes to do more once you are actually able to get on the horses so the next year will be mostly my show since it will be primarily ground work.
All signs point to this horse being easy to back. I say back rather than start because I won't be doing any work under saddle until his third birthday even if I sit on him before then. Even at three it makes me crazy to see horses pushed. They still have maturing bones and ligaments in their spine and have a hard enough time keeping balanced themselves let alone with a rider on their back. People might think they have an "early maturing" breed but just because those muscles look like a full grown horse doesn't mean the bone, ligaments, and tendons that hold everything together are mature. Even though he is big horses' spines are the last thing to finish maturing. There is no reason to push him now and end up with problems down the road. I keep my horses for life so any problem I cause by pushing a horse now will be something I have to deal with eventually. However, I do plan on sitting on him before them. I just want him to get used to a human laying over his back and maybe sitting on him bareback for a few minutes here and there over the next year.
We have been working on walking up to the mounting block and standing still while I jump around and wave my arms like a total nut. The first few times he wanted to swing his butt around and face me but today he was a perfect gentleman. I swung my leg back and rubbed his flank and belly with it. My friend is 6'2" so he can drape his body all the way over him when he is on the mounting block. He is such a smart cookie. His ears are pricked and he is paying attention to everything you do but he never panics. I try to keep a close eye on his body language and move on to something new before he totally loses focus. He is a good boy but he is only two and I don't want to overload him and start to feel like our time together is something to endure.
We also had our very first true lunge session today. I have been working with on him walking around me in a circle on the end of a lead rope but nothing on the lung line and nothing above a walk. I wanted to get him started learning the body language for when I want him to go faster, go on a larger circle or move away from me. We don't have a round pen so it is a little tricky to get that concept down. The video is grainy, really short, and my skills are quite sad but....... it was his very first time at the end of a full length lunge line and it was the first time he was asked to trot. I am impressed with him. I swear that someone has already worked with him before because he acted like he has done it all the time. My goal is to get him understanding cues well enough to be able to use the full arena. Too much circle work is really hard on a young horse's legs. There are some great exercises you can do using a full length of the arena though once he gets a little further along. He was pretty pokey on the lunge line but that seemed more because he was confused and his instinct isn't to run and be crazy when he isn't sure what is being asked. It was a hot day today and he wasn't out of breath or sweaty at all.
He really seems to enjoy our sessions together. I have found that we can actually work together longer without wearing him out mentally as long as I do each thing for only about 15 minutes. We got some more video in the aisle way. He loves uncle Richie and couldn't understand why I wouldn't let him go and get loves when he was trying to get video. We measured him today and he is 16h at the withers and 16.1 at his rump. We did the string test on him which indicated he would mature close to to 16.3. From what I have read about horse growth it doesn't seem that he would grow over two more inches but I think he will at least catch up with his rump. No matter what it will be fun to watch him see saw his way through baby hood and grow into a mature young man.
My next goals are to try ponying him on my mare. She is such an obedient horse and doesn't mind it when other horses are up her bum on trail rides. It will be a great way to condition them both at the same time. And it will get him used to a human being above him which will hopefully make that first ride that much easier.